Tag Archives: Maps

Redistricting Minority Reports

I had an idea this week, which I’m sketching out just for whatever. Please note, this is not a recommendation, just a thought-experiment. The best approach for redistricting, short of reconsidering the whole concept of geography-based democracy, is probably still very independent commissions kept as far away from politicians as possible.

But, what if the backstop for legislative district maps supported by only the party in power was a kind of “official minority report” along these lines:

In Ohio, for example, current redistricting rules call for maps to be supported by at least half of the second-largest party in government (i.e. Democrats), but allow the party in power (i.e. Republicans) to enact four-year maps on a party-line basis, subject to antigerrymandering rules. In practice, Ohio Republicans are just ramming more gerrymandering right through the rules, and it seems to me like any real solution must involve taking the map-drawing pen away from the gerrymanderers at some point.

So how about, instead, if (when) Ohio Republicans ram through gerrymandered districts on a party-line vote, Ohio Democrats get to re-draw part of the map, say 40%.

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Genuine Border Problems

I have been thinking about this topic, lately, but a line from this Guardian editorial offered a very valuable perspective: “There are few states in Europe today with the same boundaries that they had a century ago.” To be honest the editorial’s intent is a little unclear; it seems to imply that static borders for centuries are a rarity, but then argues that this necessitates extra effort to preserve the century-old UK borders.

From my own perspective, it seems like a much more useful premise to recognize that static borders for centuries are a rarity, and that this has a lot of relevance for America, which has had basically unchanged borders for 150 years.

Yes, you can pepper that statement with asterisks, but a map of the United States has mostly looked the same since the end of the Civil War. That’s a long time, quite a bit has changed, and yet we have made negligible changes to the mostly arbitrary lines which are increasingly unhelpful.

It’s partly but not entirely an ironic coincidence that much noise within US politics concerns “borders,” but mostly avoids conversation about maps.

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Cotton’s Library art, charts and maps

Cotton’s Library includes, by my count, a dozen pieces of artwork. The majority of it is my own work, in some sense, if only because I produced my own hand-renderings rather than pay for (or outright steal) rights-restricted digital images.

The situation is similar for three charts and graphs, though in this case I produced new computer illustrations more for a combination of quality and clarity. For much the same reasons, I’m going to post those charts and graphs online, here. The ebook format, after two go-rounds, just seems to me like it is not a great platform for images. It definitely is not a great platform for large and/or complicated diagrams. The Cotton’s Library epub omits a family tree that appears in the print editions, and the Kindle edition—which is even less friendly to images owing to a range of devices that render a given picture anywhere from thumbnail size to enormous—omits that plus a map.

I don’t want anyone to be shortchanged, though, if I can help it. So here are nice, big PNG files that should (at full size) make everything nearly as clear as the print edition. First, the context of Cotton House in Westminster c. 1630…

Map of Cotton House in historic Westminster (London)

Click for larger image. (Based on research by Colin Tite)

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